Crusoe Osagie explains the need to promote dairy production as a means of stemming the herders, farmers crisis and increasing the prosperity and productivity of the Hausa-Fulani
Apart from meat, the other essential product from cattle is milk. The dietary, nutritional and culinary importance of milk and milk products can hardly be overemphasised. To give children a good nutritional start in life, milk must be a key component of their daily meals.
FG’s Milk Plan
Little wonder therefore the federal government plans to provide a litre of milk a day for each of the 30,000,000 children in secondary and primary schools under the school feeding programme.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe has been a key advocate of this initiative.
Ogbe quoted UNESCO statistics, which states that 24 per cent of Nigerian children under the age of five are under weight while 37 per cent are under nourished and declared that the federal government will tackle the problem of malnutrition which adversely affects the cognitive ability of children.
To address the problem, Ogbe said the federal government will embark on a programme to develop massive grazing grounds for cattle to bring roaming and its attendant problem to an end.
The minister disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will acquire 10 deep water rigs from the Borno State Government and build windmills to operate wells that will provide water for the planned grazing grounds.
He added that the grazing grounds will not only improve the quantity and quality of beef and milk produced in the country, they will also make cattle rearers more sedentary.
Speaking further on the quality of cows reared in Nigeria, Ogbe said the ministry will partner some universities abroad and in Nigeria to establish an artificial insemination programme in 200 centres in the country; he challenged researchers to look for and introduce into the proposed cattle breeding programme animals that adapt well to the Nigerian climatic condition.
It is hardly possible to adequately dimension the extent of Nigeria’s blessing in terms of human, material and natural resources.
That the massive West African nation possesses huge potential in agriculture has become more or less a cliche. But not even the people who constantly make the claim fully understand the enormity of the nation’s farming potential.
Dairy farming, an occupation that is the lifestyle of one of the largest ethnic groups in country, the Fulanis, forms one of the major sources of revenue and employment for developed countries of the world such as Denmark and the Netherlands.
Perhaps, the population of the Fulanis in Nigeria, 80 per cent of whom are engaged in dairy farming in one way or the other, will surpass the entire population of the Netherlands, yet Nigeria as a whole cannot contend with just one village in the Netherlands where cattle are raised for milk.
This makes it abundantly clear therefore that whatever methods Nigerians, which in this case largely refers to Fulanis, are adopting in terms of dairy production is vastly inefficient and needs to be improved.
Nomadism and migration of cattle and their herders, which has turned out to be the precursor of one of the most dangerous threats which Nigeria faces at the moment has to be reevaluated and assessed for the purpose of modifying it to a method that will engender peace and enhance productivity.
Dairy Development Programme
To this extent, a scheme being promoted by FrieslandCampina WAMCO, may be worthy of an in-depth study by both government and the Fulanis themselves.
Termed the Dairy Development Programme (DDP), the scheme engages local farmers to produce and supply raw milk to the company.
According to the Managing Director of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, Mr. Rahul Colaco, “To further increase its local content and support the federal government’s initiative to grow the agricultural sector, we commenced the DDP in August 2010. This is gradually developing into a full national programme as the company is dedicated to make the DDP a success by ensuring the transfer of technology know-how on milk production for Nigerian farmers.”
He said through DDP, the company’s investment in local diary sector by sharing knowledge and expertise, will contribute to improving the quality and quantity of raw milk, the social position of farmers, increase self-sufficiency and food security of the nation.
Throwing more light on the DDP, the company’s Public Affairs Manager, Temitola Adeola, said the aim of the programme is to support the federal government’s initiative to develop dairy farming in Nigeria by providing the required technical know-how on milk production to Nigerian farmers and also provide the necessary market for the farmers.
“To achieve this, our team of experts visited a number of locally established dairy farms to determine the availability of fresh milk in Nigeria. Series of examination were also carried out by our quality control unit to check the quality impact of using fresh milk in our product recipe, “she stated.
She added that WAMCO went into discussions with viable farmers from this area who can possibly meet the production demands of the company in the future if provided the right training and market.
According to her, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the former governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to launch the dairy farming programmes in Shonga Farms and has since taken delivery of its first 1,000 litres of fresh milk from Shonga in Kwara State on August 1,2015; and since then have been taking delivery of 11,000 litres of fresh milk per day from Shonga.
With this, WAMCO is the first dairy company in the country to use raw milk material from the country to manufacture evaporated milk.
“We are indeed proud of this and hope to take it to greater heights. However, the Dairy Development Programme (DDP) is an intensive project that requires both professional attention and infrastructure to succeed. In view of this, the company signed MoU with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture because milk production in Nigeria is currently low and the development process will take some time. The Dairy Development Programme therefore needs the support of the government and substantial investments in livestock and equipment. Again, as the dairy expert, we are committed to providing the required technical know-how on milk production to Nigerian farmers but we can only succeed on this project with the support of the government,” she said.